Tuesday, Dec. 23, 1997 | 10:59 a.m.
Last Friday, Hoyt Sibley sat up in his bed at a Santa Barbara, Calif., hospital and chatted with his nephew and business partner, Scott Sibley, sharing a few jokes and giving a little advice.
Earlier that week, the founder and longtime editor and publisher of Nevada Legal News had written his own obituary. In it, Sibley said he wanted his newspaper staff remembered as his "extended office family."
"He knew the end was coming soon and had told us what day and time to hold his funeral and even what he wanted to wear," Scott said of the efficient and diligent businessman who long worked seven days a week to build his successful company.
"He gave me a lot of advice, the most important of which probably was to, whenever possible, help people out. He was a real gentleman -- the kind of man who routinely held doors open for others."
Hoyt S. Sibley, who started his daily Las Vegas legal newspaper in his garage in 1960 and later became a philanthropist, donating large sums to the Catholic Church and numerous local charities, died Saturday of heart failure. He was 87.
Sibley, a stickler for exercise and vitamins, was healthy most of his life, but he suffered a heart attack in July. Within two months, he was back at work. However, about that time, Sibley was injured during rehabilitation therapy and never fully recovered, Scott said.
Services for the 43-year Las Vegas resident will be at 7 p.m. today at St. Gabriel Byzantine Catholic Church. Visitation will be for four hours prior to the funeral. Interment will be at Palm Valley View Memorial Park.
"Hoyt enjoyed newspaper publishing and the law and was dedicated to both of them," said Ty Hilbrecht, a Las Vegas attorney since 1959. "He was a very fine, highly ethical and professional person who was a pioneer in the legal and professional community."
One of Sibley's earliest innovations was the jury list, which he started publishing in the late 1960s.
"It was a compilation of information about potential jurors that helped local attorneys to prepare for cases," Hilbrecht recalled. "It also saved the court a lot of time because not so many screening questions had to be asked."
Sibley's jury list was discontinued after several years. Growth in the city and the Clark County District Court system made it difficult for Sibley to do the research necessary to prepare the publication in a timely manner for local lawyers, Hilbrecht said.
Sibley also is credited with publishing the first directory for local attorneys. His company still publishes the Southern Nevada Legal Directory, which has grown from a mimeographed sheet to a nearly 100-page booklet.
In the late 1970s, Sibley and Hilbrecht, who today heads Hilbrecht & Associates corporate and business law firm, developed the first local incorporation kits for Las Vegas businesses.
Before that, local businessmen had to purchase kits that had been designed for California firms and had a great deal of material not compatible with Nevada statutes.
Over the last four decades, Sibley's Nevada Legal News tabloid has become a vital publication for not only area attorneys, but also mortgage brokers, trust companies, contractors and other local businesses.
Scott, who worked for his uncle for five years before becoming a partner along with longtime Nevada Legal News staffer Luz Munoz, said Hoyt survived so long in the newspaper business because he kept up with technology.
"When he started the paper, my uncle would take the actual court documents and reduce them with a camera to run them in the paper," Scott said. "Over the years, he put money back into the business by investing in things like typesetting equipment and computers. There is so little that we cut and paste anymore."
Utah-born Sibley began his career in the early 1930s in San Francisco as a banker for Wells Fargo. He also started a land development and home-building company there.
During World War II, Sibley joined the Coast Guard. While on convoy duty, dropping off troops in Europe, he was captured by the Germans and spent nine months in a POW camp.
After being released at war's end, Sibley returned to California to find his business had gone under. He started over as an accountant in Taft, Calif., where he eventually opened his own business.
Sibley moved to Las Vegas in 1954, where he opened another accounting firm and a lumber company, which he sold a few years later to Houston Lumber. He used the proceeds to start his newspaper.
In recent years, Sibley donated large sums to charity. He made a substantial anonymous donation to St. Gabriel that was used to build a major addition to the facility, Scott said.
Among the more than one dozen charities to which he gave regularly were the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada and Opportunity Village, Scott said, noting that Hoyt was a modest man who sought no recognition for those gifts.
He also jealously guarded his real age, keeping that a secret until his death.
"He kept in such great shape, swimming every morning and working out on the treadmill and stationary bike every day," Scott said of Hoyt's efforts to remain in excellent health in his later years.
Hoyt also enjoyed traveling, whether it was by car to California, by plane to South America or by ship through the Panama Canal, a trip he took just last year.
In addition to his newspaper staff and business partners, Sibley is survived by his friend and caregiver Ruby McLean; a son, John Sibley of New Jersey; and a daughter, Susan Prentice also of New Jersey.
DONATIONS: In Hoyt Sibley's memory to the Sansum Medical Foundation, 317 W. Pueblo St., Santa Barbara, Calif., 93105.